Capitol Report: Trump impeachment trial: Senators brace for final day of Q&A as vote on witnesses nears

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Senate Television via AP

Alan Dershowitz, an attorney for President Donald Trump, answers a question during the impeachment trial in the Senate on Wednesday.

Senators were preparing Thursday for the second and final day of questions in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, as a vote on calling witnesses was expected Friday and Republican leaders eyed a quick verdict.

Senators have eight hours Thursday to ask more questions of both Democratic House managers and Trump’s lawyers, after lobbing more than 90 queries in Wednesday’s session. Up next will be a critical vote in which four Republicans would have to join Democrats to allow witnesses and documents.

Republicans are signaling they have the votes to block witnesses. The GOP could move to acquit Trump as soon as Friday evening, Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, the No. 3 Senate Republican, told NBC News on Wednesday.

Democrats say Trump abused his power by withholding aid to Ukraine in an effort to get that country to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden. They also charge that he obstructed lawmakers’ efforts to investigate the matter.

Trump denies wrongdoing and calls the impeachment effort a hoax. His lawyers began their defense on Saturday by charging that Democrats are trying to keep Trump from being reelected.

Read: ‘The president did absolutely nothing wrong’: Trump’s lawyers kick off impeachment defense.

Wednesday’s session featured numerous questions about John Bolton, the former national security adviser whose forthcoming book charges that Trump tied aid to Ukraine to investigations. The White House says Bolton’s book can’t be published in its current form and has demanded changes.

Also read: Trump’s impeachment trial moves to Q&A as Collins asks about president’s motives.

A vote to hear from witnesses would prolong the trial. Trump, however, is expected to ultimately be acquitted since Republicans hold a 53-47 Senate majority. Convicting and removing him would take a two-thirds majority, or 67 senators.

U.S. stocks DJIA, -0.52%, which have largely ignored the impeachment drama from Washington, dropped at the open on Thursday, as the coronavirus epidemic stoked fears of a slowdown in Chinese and global economic growth.

Read Market Snapshot.

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